Language of the Waves

potassiumboron

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If there was one thing that Ambrose Demori had become accustomed to during his many years venturing the high seas, it was the freedom that came with having nobody to answer to; nobody to enforce rules and regulations upon him.

He had a varied past before his days of ambushing and smuggling on the ocean, though much of his working life prior to that decision to embrace a life of piracy had been dominated by superiors taking advantage of their barely paid workers. Among the more painful memories from that area of his past had been his time working upon the Navy ships that came to dock, the hours of hard work under the searing afternoon sun never recognised by naval officers who sought to deplete whatever optimism the desperate men in Ambrose's position had felt. No matter their reasoning, be it a sadistic delight or genuine disgust with those of a lower status than them, Ambrose's life had been hell during that particular chapter of his life, though it was at least a catalyst in him making the decision to flee land for the open waters; to steal a ship and open his arms to a life of criminality.

Illegal though it may have been, the benefits were undeniable - a life of freedom could be achieved, where he would be respected and treat his loyal crew with the respect they in turn deserved. Though they weren't necessarily freed from the confines of working for someone in a -technically- superior position to them, his experiences of the cruelty his superiors had held all but ensured that Ambrose wouldn't follow the same path, nor ever become the sort of person he despised.

No, he grew into the role of captain with a casual ease, accepting in the underdogs and underappreciated workers and befriending them, building their confidence up with kindness and patience, rather than severity and strictness. Unconventional though it may have been, the fact the Andiamo and its crew became renowned for their vicious, unrelenting exploits upon the open, rocky waters, becoming something of a legend to those on shore who could only discuss them in hushed, disbelieving tones, exemplified Ambrose's success better than the rewards and treasures he is capable of boasting of.

And so, with years of the successful lifestyle under his belt, the thought of ever returning to working for someone, rather than forging his own destiny under his own command, was unthinkable. He had a loyal crew who shared the burning intensity of his inherent ambition - why would he ever willingly choose to dismantle every philosophy he held and place himself in a position of occupational inferiority to anyone?

But everyone has their price.

Even Ambrose.

The day, sunny with a slight breeze, made for perfect sailing conditions, and ideally, Ambrose would have been content to stand on deck admiring the glittering blue waves; feeling the wind in his hair and admiring the life he had cut out for himself that allowed him to experience those simple pleasures almost every day. Hell, even when storms were brewing and the waves were rocky, Ambrose had much to admire (in all honesty, the danger of a storm at sea excited him far more than it ought to). Yet, despite the gentleness and pleasantness of the day, the pirate's expression was intense; a rare sight for the crew that were used to their captain wearing a wide grin; of presenting a typical liveliness that lifted their spirits on even the most miserable of days. The reason, however, was understandable: they were on a mission, and until their bounty was found, there was no time for joking or revelry.

Ambrose sighed to himself, a sound of quiet exasperation, as his eyes narrowed and fiercely scanned the ocean below. The fishing nets cast over the side had yet to capture anything of particular interest, as had been the way for the past few days. Working on a time limit, under the command of a perfect stranger he had met in a tavern on shore (belonging to a good friend whose loyalty he had been proud to own for the years he had been involved in piracy), didn't put him at ease; it unsettled him, feelings of annoyance at the circumstances and a frantic need for it to be completed as soon as was possible bubbling beneath the surface. Capturing a mermaid hadn't sounded like a difficult task - even if the creature was one he had thought a being of complete myth, the stranger hiring him for his services had seemed confident in their existence - and had offered eye-watering amounts of money for their capture.

With experience fishing at sea (and admittedly dazzled by the prospect of riches that could benefit the crew he saw as his family), Ambrose's characteristic confidence had led him to agree, despite his disgust at working to someone else's will and command. The benefits had simply seemed far too good to turn down, and perhaps it had been an example of his confidence becoming sheer arrogance, but he hadn't thought the task too difficult to complete given his experience at sea and a willing crew who never failed to impress him with their capability.

...But days, nearing a whole week, of not even a sight at success made him curse to gods he didn't even believe in for his oversight. He had garnered a reputation bordering legend status upon land, people who may not be his biggest fans at least knowing of his name and whispering in disbelief at the stories of his antics that spread like wildfire.

Any dent in that reputation, any hint of a failure on his part to succeed in what he set his mind to, was unimaginable, and only furthered the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety he hadn't been forced to contend with since he was a teenager, desperately fighting for his own survival.

Another sigh threatened to escape as he leaned back from the side of the ship, unable to stare longingly down at the water when days of doing so had failed to provide him with anything to celebrate.

"Y'know," he began absently to the members of his crew tending to their duties on deck, "I ain't even sure this thing exists. That fucker's sent us on a wild goose chase, for a laugh. We'll see how much he's laughing when I stick a goddamn bullet between his eyes--"

"Boss-- Boss, there's something tangled up in the-- the net, I--" A young man interrupted, eyes as frantic as his tone. He would never have dreamt of interrupting his captain, particularly when Ambrose's mood had been sour for the last few days -for understandable reasons- but when the overcast net began to pull downwards to indicate activity within them, the crew member (who was always on the anxious side but had never exuded nervous energy more than he was in the present moment) felt justified in his interjection. He wiped his hand over his brow as typically nervous eyes peered back over deck, the water's bubbling and splashing further proof of the frantic movements beneath the waves. "What do we--"

"We fucking pull that thing on deck 'cos that's no fish in there. Ain't no shark either. Pull it up, boys," commanded Ambrose, the dismayed energy disappearing all at once. He knew better than to punch the air in triumph before anything had been confirmed but a glint had returned to his eye, a smile lingering at the corner of his lips as he propelled himself into action mode. He headed across to the gathered group of men with renewed purpose, grabbing a handful of the rope to lend his men his aid. His teeth gritted together as he heaved the ropes upward, every lean muscle in his arms tightening at the effort until finally, with the help of another man or two, he stumbled back with the momentum, the trusty fishing net sprawled across the deck--

...and its capture, a living, breathing mermaid that Ambrose had never truly believed existed (and more so after days of continued failure to catch even a glimpse of one) cruelly tangled up within the tough ropes.
 
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Viverescribere

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The net had closed in on her before she had time to think.

Sereia had received a few lectures from her father for her day dreaming. He frequently saw to trying to wake her up, keep her from drifting off into her thoughts too deeply. He would tell her that she needed to keep her wits about her, for what reason, he never elaborated, so Sereia always shrugged it off. She had always assumed it was due to the potential risks that awaited her when she went scavenging. Perhaps the odd shark, maybe in case a passing ship cut through the waves above her.

However, she now knew why. And it was far too late to stop it from happening.

The ocean released her as the rope tightened around her, cutting into her skin and scales as she was hoisted into the air. The young mermaid's struggle increased dramatically as she felt the cool waters slip over her skin, giving her up without a fight to the breeze that awaited her above the waves. The rope was harsh, coarse and thick, causing fibres to stick to her body and tail, not to mention irritation and friction burn and the odd sharp pain as a scale was ripped off.

Her wriggling and squirming and pushing at the net only served to pin her tighter, the material seeming to have a mind of its own and cruelly tangling in a way that was unyielding. She barely noticed she had been pulled onto some wooden flooring, it only registering in her mind when her tail slammed against the decking. Even then, not as powerfully as she would have liked, the rope's grip on her keeping her from becoming too aggressive in her movements. Her fingers hooked through the gaps between the weaving, palms pushing and pulling against it in her desperation.

It wasn't until she rolled over, which in turn caused a line of rope to dig across her stomach, that Sereia realised she had eyes on her. She could just about raise her head to look at the faces squinting down at her, which caused her to pause with the shock of it. Still very much in a puddle of salt water, but acutely aware of the sun beating down on her, Sereia's heartrate began to increase.

Her tail lifted and slammed a handful of more times against the decking as her fight the netting again. However, previously silent, the sea creature began to curse aloud. Not just in her language but in a few different ones known to those on land. She called them everything and anything she could think of. Bastards. Sons of whores. Cocksuckers.

The friction burns began to worsen and Sereia was aware of her energy flagging, despite the adrenaline pumping around her body at the sight of the male humans. It was now that she began to wish she had listened to her father's words of criticism and advice. That she had heeded his warnings and paid more attention to where she was swimming, what she was doing.

Interactions with humans were limited, but she had heard stories. Naturally. Just as the humans had heard stories about the mermaids. She had even watched them, from time to time, dancing around pits of flames on the beaches or those on ships from afar. She was a curious creature, and would never turn down an opportunity to learn more about them. However, because of that, she also knew what some of the human males were like. Taking women when they wanted. Treating those not like them like scum. Caging up oddities for profit. Descaling her own kind for 'medicine'.

With those thoughts in mind, whenever one of the men surrounding her got too close, Sereia would lift her head and hiss defensively, struggling again soon after.

She could feel the sea beginning to dry on her skin and scales, leaving her hair to dry in clumps, as salt began to cake on her skin. It wouldn't be long until her legs appeared, and the creature feared for when they did. She had to wonder just how much these humans knew about her kind. What they would do when her tail turned to legs. Perhaps they would release her, throw her back into the sea, think her the wrong kind of mermaid.

Eventually, however, Sereia's strength dwindled, and she was forced to rest on her back and stare up at the sky. Her chest heaving up and down at a dangerous pace, her body crying out to her about all the different places in which the rope was biting into her skin - including bending the tip of her delicate fin which gave a pathetic little flop as she finally dared to look around, eyes wide and wild.
 

potassiumboron

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Despite his insistence that whatever innocent being had been caught up amongst the harsh ropes wasn't one of the fish they had consistently pulled up from the waves over the prior few days, Ambrose didn't know that for certain. He was the son of a fisherman, a descendant from a line of fishermen that went back countless decades, so he knew that whatever had been caught wasn't a small fish of little to no consequence, nor something that could be tossed back overboard with no regard. He had never ventured into the occupation his male ancestors had been proud to claim, but he had been aboard his father's trawler boat for years, dutifully stood at the man's side as he taught him all he knew.

So he knew, without a doubt, that whatever lingered within the coarse net was of some interest. Even if it wasn't the mermaid he had been seeking for days upon days, there was still money to be made if they had dragged up a large tuna. Granted, he had no interest in turning to catching fish to make a living these days, having long abandoned the notion of honest work for an honest living, but if they had captured one, it would be remiss of him not to profit from their hard work.

Especially when it would be the first real interesting thing they had managed to catch after days of throwing the net overboard and hoping, desperately, for the best.

Yet, what resided within the confines of the net was of far more interest -and consequence- than a mere fish, the sight of the mermaid struggling defiantly amongst the ropes that effectively and successfully bound her immediately depriving Ambrose of the ability to speak, because what words could possibly fit the occasion? What sentences could summarise the feeling that hit him as his eyes settled on the creature writhing continually against her fate?

It wasn't necessarily the realisation that he had succeeded in finding a mermaid that silenced the notoriously talkative captain and sapped him of his usual energy. Sure, the thought came to mind, the delight in knowing it would only be a further few days until he could be freed of the obligation of working for someone else, but it wasn't the dominating one. On the contrary, Ambrose remained stunned by the simple fact that he was face-to-face with a mermaid; that the creature before his eyes was real and could no longer be shrouded with mystery he had often deemed entirely mythic in nature.

He had heard countless tales of the merpeople from men at sea, men from his own family in fact. His own father had remained defiant in the face of his son's scepticism, claiming to Ambrose in all the years he had been in his life that he had captured a glimpse of a mermaid once; that it wasn't a being of legend but one of reality.

There was little chance Ambrose could bat away such claims from sailors now he had that elusive creature on the very boards of his beloved ship.

With the rest of his crew having approached and fallen quiet in their own disbelief (and, from some of the wide grins, in jubilation of their success), it was Ambrose that managed to compose himself and speak first, setting his hands on his hips and allowing a smile to grow in his triumph. There was little point in being subtle; he was thrilled at what he and his crew had achieved, so why hide it?

"We'll crack open a barrel tonight boys, celebrate this properly - but first, I want 'er tied up so stop her wriggling off into the sea, yeah? Get some rope and tie her up against the pole of the mast, that should keep her in place until nightfall. I'll decide where to put her thing," he determined aloud, nodding for emphasis as he briefly let his eyes scan across to the more dependable members of his crew. Perhaps inevitably, he was incapable of keeping his eyes from his capture for too long, bending down to get a better look at her.

"You're a beauty, ain't you? He ought to pay us more for that; you'll draw in a good crowd," he murmured vaguely, more to himself than to anyone else. A wider smirk grew at the corner of his lips, the glint in his eyes brightening as the realisation of his success -and the reward that would accompany it- sunk in properly.

"Stop squirming so much, it's useless. Be a good girl an' this little journey to shore will fly by. Time tends to do that when you have fun, doll, so... quit fucking moving, got that? Or you're gonna make me mad an' neither of us want that."
 

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The amount of eyes on her truly were unnerving and Sereia wasn't sure if her body was heating up under the sun or under the gazes that were focused onto her body. The hairs on the back of her neck rose in response and the fin at the end of her tail flicked miserably from time to time, twitching anxiously.

The dryness that was steadily becoming a feature on her skin and scales also made her acutely aware of just how naked she was, and further would become, compared to the human men surrounding her. They were all covered, pretty much so, but Sereia was aware that humans did tend to keep themselves more modestly clothed. She, in her bra of seagrass, seaweed and shells, felt all too bare and vulnerable... especially with the lingering and wandering gazes. It would become worse when she lost the last bit of moisture on her skin and scale, and the mermaid dreaded the moment that she was moved from her slowly evaporating puddle.

She sharply twisted her head as one of them moved closer towards her, bending down after just moments ago barking out about their celebrations. His compliment brought her no relief, but instead twisted her stomach and made nausea rife.

A crowd. He said she would draw a crowd. So she would become a show. She would be reduced to nothing more than a visual show to be delighted, disgusted or cooed at. It was a soul-shrivelling thought, but at the same time, she couldn't help but feel grateful that she wouldn't be reduced down to some sort of carcass that was only good for harvests. That her scales would remain intact on her body and not grinded down, her blood not extracted and used for creams or ointments. Her hair not weaved into wigs for the vainest of human women.

Yet his threat felt like that possibility still lingered. That if she didn't behave, that option was still just that: an option.

"But she's half-fish, ain't she? Don't she need water? Ain't she goin' die if we keep 'er out of it?" One of the crew piped up, unable to remove his eyes from the mermaid despite addressing his captain.

Sereia's gaze darted to the human who spoke, her chest still rising and falling rapidly, before it locked back onto the one who firmly stamped his authority over her, telling her to be good. She could already feel her body preparing for the transition, her tail cramping, feeling as though something was squeezing tightly around it. It would only become more painful; a warning for her submerge herself back into the cool, soothing waters that were so tantalisingly close.

"Why?" The mermaid finally spoke, voice quiet and soft yet torn at the same time, "Why so cruel?"
 

potassiumboron

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On one hand, Ambrose felt an inclination to exhibit some disgust at the sight of the inhuman creature; to communicate, or at the very least visibly present, a revulsion not only at her presence but her very existence. She may appear close to human, even mistaken entirely for one from the waist-up, but she would always be categorised and noticed primarily for the inhuman characteristics she possessed; the factors that made her what she was. It was those parts of her that he felt inclined to sneer at, to make it abundantly clear that any remarks on her beauty were throwaway ones and not necessarily representative of a sympathy or a kindness towards her.

Granted, despite genuinely lacking that sort of empathy for her predicament, the desire to curl his lip and appear disgusted by her wasn't necessarily because he found her disgusting. As lacking in empathy as he was, the other part of the pirate found her inexplicably captivating; enchanting, even, and thus far from repellent or revolting as he would otherwise prefer to claim. Despite knowing that countless people would possess an intrigue in the being, as the existence -and popularity- of the 'freak shows' presenting such creatures to the world served to prove, Ambrose refused to admit that he was one of those people; that he was capable of being drawn in.

That would lead to a lowering of his defences, and he couldn't allow that to happen. However alluring she was, whether it be her beauty or an unexplainable, otherworldly mysteriousness surrounding her, Ambrose had a job to do - and nothing would prevent him from collecting the prize for his bounty at the end of it.

It was the reminder of the prize that awaited him upon the completion of his task that renewed his smirk, the momentary pause in his smugness coming to a quick end. She was beautiful, but she wasn't a woman he could indulge in flirtation with: she was a monster in his eyes; a being who only held significance to him as a result of the task on his hands.

When he completed said task, she would be entirely inconsequential; a fact he vowed to keep in mind whenever he thought his thoughts were at risk of wandering and his defences subsequently lowering.

"Half-fish, yeah-- but the guy didn't say we had to get her to him alive. I'm sure it's preferable but-- if she dies, he could put her in a glass case, 'ave her on display. He'd still make a killing off curious folk, alive or dead. It ain't a big deal," he finally replied, the minutes of long silence on his part as he contemplated his reaction to her (and eventually managed to pull himself together enough to return to characteristically blunt, smug form) coming to a swift end. His grin only widened at the rapid breathing, choosing to believe that it was a result of fear and trepidation.

To someone like Ambrose, being feared was the greatest compliment he could receive; a consolidation of everything he sought to be.

"Ah, you speak English? Fucking brilliant, that's just great. She's a smart 'un, she can speak the language. Saves the guy having to teach 'er, yeah? I reckon that's worth a few extra coins, lads," he beamed before breaking into a disbelieving laugh, due to both his own luck and the genuine surprise that she could communicate in his own tongue. His perception of a creature like Sereia was hardly positive, and he would be the first to admit that he held the perception of her being uncivilised and unintelligent.

The fact she was smarter than he could have imagined was fantastic... if only because it was simply of a benefit to him financially.

"Now you listen 'ere, alright? And listen real close," he continued once the reverberating laughter died down, inching closer to the creature to ensure his words landed - and a tight grip on her jaw, his hand having reached out with abrupt purpose, ought to help with that intention. "It ain't cruel. You're a monster; you ain't got emotions, right? You haven't got humanity. A soul. Whatever you wanna call it. So cut the crap, doll. The little pity party you wanna throw yourself ain't washing with me-- my boys 'ere are gonna get some rope and tie you against the mast. Any struggling and you'll see my angry side. I guarantee you don't wanna see that anytime soon, 'kay?"
 

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A pained, high-pitched squeak escaped the mermaid at the grip on her jaw, causing her eyes to squeeze shut against the sensation that caught her so swiftly. When she opened them, they only widened at the close proximity between her and her main captor. He was close enough for her to spit at, that was for sure. But not to do anything physically damaging - like biting. Although Sereia doubted she would get a chance to. His fingers were locked around her jaw, as if that was the purpose for holding it in the first place. Tantalising her with the opportunity but denying her the chance.

His words were just as dark and sharp as she imagined his soul to be. He threw those barbed insults with the intent to hurt but Sereia knew better than to let them. She was the one tangled within rope. Monsters were the ones that hunt, and she was the hunted. How could she be the monster when he was the one who had plucked her from her home; tore her away from her family?

"Ou se mons la." The soft Haitian accent was made stronger by the mother tongue of the waters she resided in, the mermaid holding his gaze for the time he gripped her jaw, "Your soul is black and rotten. Your emotions are ailing and feeble. If you are an example of humanity... I'm glad I am not it." Her voice trembled as she spoke, "I hope your ship becomes a wreck and I find you washing in your own blood. If I am a monster... there must be a special place in your Hell for the likes of you."

The wind, so well timed, seemed to pick up slightly. Whistling and causing sails and flags to flap more urgently, catching the clothing of the men stood on deck and encouraging the sea spray onto higher levels.

However, with this heavier breeze came a quicker drying time, causing Sereia to rip her chin from his hand with a small cry of agony. Her hands squirmed within the net, desperate to reach her tail as it felt like muscles were tearing beneath the scales. She barely noticed a few of the men surrounding her stepping back as she rubbed and pawed at the scales, knowing better than to scratch at them despite her wishing to. Her tail began to buck and writhe within the netting, all the while beginning to look as if the scales were beginning to melt, and then evaporate, from her lower body.

As it began, Sereia fought against the netting to bring what soon became her knees up to her chest. Her ankles crossed to aid the protection she needed to hide her new vulnerability. Human legs now replaced a fish tail, the bare and naked skin of her lower half kept the friction burns and small cuts and grazes she had earned while in her other form.

Her body was soon quivering, not of cold but of fear of what would happen to her next, "Dieu ait pitié. Dieu ait pitié. Protège-moi et pardonne-moi tous mes torts." She whispered to herself over and over, keeping her legs as tight against her chest as possible with a grip that would rival any on deck in that moment.





Translations:

Ou se mons la - You are the monster
Dieu ait pitié. Dieu ait pitié. Protège-moi et pardonne-moi tous mes torts - God have mercy. God have mercy. Protect me and forgive me all my wrongs.
 

potassiumboron

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The pirate's grin only widened at the flurry of insults slung at him. He wasn't impervious to harm, nor invulnerable to feeling the whole range of emotions, but he was also someone who thrived off pricking and prodding at someone's weak point for purposes of gaining a reaction from them, solely for his own entertainment. It was why he so thoroughly enjoyed the hatred and outrage that seemed to follow him from those in society who took a dim view of his actions.

Of course, there were proponents of his behaviour, those who saw no wrong in the targeting of merchant ships transporting goods for wealthy companies, but there were also those who were entirely disparaging of the violence and ruthlessness that surrounded him.

Though it was all notoriety and infamy that he inarguably enjoyed, there was always something that little bit more satisfying in pissing people off. As far as Ambrose was concerned, he was doing something right if he left a mass of irritation and unbridled anger in his wake. And while it wasn't quite the ferocity of infuriated sailors, foaming at the mouth in their rage and disgust with him and his crew, Ambrose wasn't going to pretend that he didn't enjoy the mermaid's curses.

Other men in his position might regard the behaviour as disrespectful, and they wouldn't be wrong - but Ambrose was more than happy to ease back a little from her and soak up the mixture of outrage and fear, rather than disrupt her flow and ruin the fun he gathered from it. Where was the point in interrupting her when it ruined the show she was inadvertently putting on for him?

"My soul is what? 'Black and rotten'? Oh, sweetheart, you really know how to dish out those compliments, don't 'ya? Warms the cockles of my heart, it does," he cooed sarcastically in response, a hand theatrically coming to rest on his chest, above where his heart beat beneath it. He took no real offence to the disparaging view taken of him, the inventive insults against his character easily batted away with a smile. He wasn't prepared to find the energy to be offended by her remarks when she was -in his eyes- his inferior; a being whose existence only bore a consequence to him because of the financial reward he would garner.

Being offended by anything she had to say was an investment into her that he really had no interest in taking up anytime soon.

His mouth opened once more at her persistent squirming, evidently with the intention of hammering home the demand that she behave herself, though any words lingering at the tip of his tongue suddenly evaded him. Not known for ever being lost for words, the feeling of speechlessness was one Ambrose would reflect on with annoyance, though in the moment, observing a change his human eyes had never witnessed before, that self-awareness wasn't available to him.

His eyes flickered to the fully formed legs that now existed in place of the scaled tail, brows furrowed as the shock that had hit him hard slowly began to ease. He coughed into an enclosed fist to brush the rest of it from his countenance, forcing a smile to kickstart the casualness he was more accustomed to experiencing.

It took a lot to shock a man like Ambrose; a man who had seen -and done- a variety of things - so finally experiencing that surprise wasn't something he was content with. Not when it accompanied a level of vulnerability that he had fought hard to push back his entire life.

"I told you to get the fucking ropes, didn't I?" He commanded to the men to his left, shooting a serious glare in their direction to push them into action. Only at their movement did he return his gaze to the mermaid before him, kneeling down to meet her eye once more, albeit without the harsh, physical grasp on her face he had taken up minutes prior.

"You'd better be able to turn back to normal, sweetheart, 'cos I ain't sure I'll get paid if I rock up with you stuck looking like this. An' if that's the case, if he turns me away and I don't get my gold coins-- well, that's not good news for you. So your little-- transformation better go both ways or you'll be a problem for me. And my gun comes in real handy at solving problems for me, d'ya understand what I mean? Nah, you're a smart girl, you get it," he hummed, a grin finally returning to his features as he held her stare for a beat, long enough to ensure the seriousness of his threat had landed and made an impact. Only then did he return to full height, holding his arms out at length until a crack sounded, a satisfied sigh breaking through his lips.

"Get 'er tied up an' we'll crack open the rum, boys. I think I can allow time for celebrating tonight; god fucking knows we've earned it, ay?"
 

Viverescribere

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Her prayers stopped as the main sailor crouched down beside her again, leaving her grip to tighten around her legs but her eyes to remain on her new feet (which held no webbed toes, despite any curious thoughts on deck). The hairs on the back of her neck raised at the threat but the mermaid continued to rock ever so slightly within the netting. She wondered if she would ever become accustomed to the man's promises of pain and torture and punishment. Maybe she would, with time. Perhaps it would become background noise, like the rolling sands that moved with the waves of the sea.

Only when he stood and focused on his men did Sereia's gaze flicker up to him, observing him and his motions, upper lip twitching at the idea of them all celebrating their catch. Celebrating her and whatever future enslavement that was lined up for her.

The mermaid started as the rope began to move, causing her to be dragged across the deck towards the mast. Her squirming picked up once more as she reacted to the sensations that caused - friction burn all over her body, which was now even more sensitive with the amount of skin that was vulnerable to the elements. She wished so badly for her tail, if only to deliver a blow so devastating that it would break a man's leg. However, she had to settle for her human form, which, luckily for her, was still as strong.

"Wha'bout a bit of celebratin' with 'er, Capt'n? She ain't no part fish now. Per'aps we ought'ta... make the most of it." One crew member question with a cackle, encouraged by the snickers of those who joined him in detangling the mermaid from her main net. It had been weeks since they were last on shore... and therefore weeks since any of them had been with a woman.

There were more hands on her body than Sereia cared for, especially given they were only supposed to be tying her up as this 'Capt'n' demanded. Yet the mermaid was aware that these men were ignorant to her kind and unknowing to her full capabilities, so when those hands began to wander and the net was fully removed to offer them more access... she moved.

As one thumb grazed over her lower lip and another hand crawled up her inner thigh, Sereia clamped her legs tight together to keep the hand between them. Her teeth, meanwhile, latched onto the thumb and bit down hard, the metallic taste of blood soon staining her tongue.

Releasing the thumb, she rolled, dragging the pirate whose hand was between her thighs over with her - effectively causing him to stagger forward so fast that he had to do forward role over her legs and land heavily on his back. Hastily, she released him while he was still winded and stumbled clumsily to her feet, teetering around like some drunken newcomer. The mast stabilised her and, while her legs shook with the effort to keep her upright, Sereia reached out (grabbing at it more than once in her haste to secure it) a large fishing hook which she wielded wildly, slashing it in the air before holding it out with a trembling grip to those who surrounded her.

"I-I don't-- ki jan yo di li..." She panted, "I don't care for your gold or your sal, zam fimen-- don't come closer! Rete tounen! I-- I'm warning you."

Her mind was racing with what to do next to get herself free, eyes darting to the sides of the ship before returning to any who dared to try and get closer, the hook lurching towards the pirate in question. Until Sereia was caught off guard by a sudden, bright light and wave of heat from her blindside, coming from just behind the main mast. She cried out, immediately dropping the hook and turning away, shielding her face and crouching down defensively.

An older crew member stood with a lantern they had lit, the glass panel removed to bare the plain, naked flame. "The binds-- quick men!"

Sereia screamed and howled in frustration and pain and misery as hands descended upon her again, this time hurrying with their administrations in tying her ankles together and then her wrists, before looping the rope onto a hook which was raised so her arms were brought above her head but allowing her to remain sitting.

The pirate in question approached his captain, handing him the lantern, "'Eard folklores, boss. These things don't take to fire," he chuckled, "Bein' creatures of the sea, an' all."

Translations:
ki jan yo di li - how do you say it
sal, zam fimen - filthy, smoking weapon
Rete tounen - Stay back!
 

potassiumboron

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Ambrose sharply sucked in a breath through gritted teeth at the suggestions that were hardly shrouded in subtle mystery. As Captain, he knew his crew's propensity for revelry on shore; of putting their long days and nights alone with one another at sea behind them and finding some distraction -and comfort- in the arms of a welcoming woman, and he had no problem with that. On the contrary, he often sought out the company of the owner of the tavern that he frequented on land (and whose occupants whose confidences he knew he held) so would never begrudge his men the opportunity to similarly unwind.

But there was an unmistakeable difference between those instances of consensual intimacy and the current suggestion of a forced one, and it was a difference the man really wasn't comfortable with.

For all his flaws, for all of the illegalities he took pride in and the violence he embarked upon with an almost sadistic eagerness, Ambrose did have a moral code. His morals may not necessarily align with society's at large for most of the time, as his criminality served to prove, but there were the exceptions.

And vehemently disagreeing with a select percentage of his crew on their apparent desire for the mermaid (irrespective of that desire not being reciprocated) was one of them.

"Ain't nobody here touching 'er, that isn't gon' happen, 'ya hear? There's plenty I can allow on board this ship but going near a woman who ain't interested really isn't one of 'em. And that's not up for debate so keep it in your pants until we're on shore an' you can find a woman who's dumb enough to find you good-looking enough for a one night stand, mate," he interjected abruptly, understandably eager to cut off the conversation before it could go any further; before he had to physically interject into the proceedings. He wasn't blind to the men's grappling hands, unnecessary in their lingering, and when the intentions of some were outspoken, unsubtle in their genuineness, the possibility of things escalating was far from slim.

That said, he hoped making his feelings apparent would cut short the plans of several members of his crew before they had a chance to act on them because stepping in and ensuring they didn't was hardly ideal.

Fortunately, contemplating that course of action as a serious possibility wasn't to last - though the distraction preventing his men from continuing on with their desires was the last thing Ambrose wanted or needed.

The mermaid's movements were rapid despite the hands reaching out to hold her, the quickness -and strength- of her actions no doubt aided by the clear vision and intention behind them. Before the pirate had any chance to comprehend what was going on, the scene had already played out in its entirety - one of his men was understandably wailing in agony, clutching a bloodied hand and another winded, sprawled on the wooden deck as he tried to regain his breathing.

Not that Ambrose particularly cared about either man at the moment - their injuries were a source of embarrassment, after all; emblematic of their over-confidence and laziness. He had warned them that the mermaid -or monster, as he often freely referred to her as- would be a creature to be wary of, that it was paramount they keep their guards up once they eventually caught one for themselves.

Why waste his sympathy on those who hadn't heeded his words?

"...You did good," he eventually managed to mutter at the elder man's word, a long minute or two going by before he was able to bring himself out of his own thoughts. When he wasn't infuriated by the majority of his crew's actions, he was focused entirely on the cowering mermaid before him. The fact they knew a weakness of hers was no doubt invaluable information, though it wasn't as big of a victory as it otherwise would have been. She had proven to be a challenge, capable of inflicting damage despite being a sole captor amongst a crew of sea-hardened (and violent) pirates.

He couldn't find time to be overjoyed when she could exploit chinks in the armour and bring down his men - and when he couldn't resort to his time-honoured solution of simply killing off those who were challenges to him, having to deal with her on board, alive and unharmed, was a headache.

One he had to endure but wished he didn't.

"Just-- tie 'er up and get some lanterns lit in case we need 'em. You tie 'er up, too. I don't trust the others right now, they've fucking embarrassed us all tonight," he continued beneath his breath, afraid that speaking any louder would lead him down the path of losing what little composure he was currently clinging to - and the less disharmony the mermaid witnessed, the less chance she had of exploiting a weakness in his crew once more. He exhaled a breath after a further second or two of silence, running a hand through his hair with one hand and reaching for his smoking pipe in his pocket with the other.

"...Someone will 'ave to watch her overnight in case she struggles free of the binds an' makes a dive overboard, but we'll cross that bridge later on. Just get 'er tied up for now. Tightly. She ain't no woman, she's a monster; don't feel bad if she gets a few fuckin' rope burns. She don't deserve comfort."
 

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The mermaid barely cared for disharmony in that moment. Looking for weakness would come later, when her adrenaline and panic had dimmed to a non-existent flame. For now, however, she was more worried about the new things she was exposed to. The men. The coarse rope. The harsh sun. The nakedness of her new body. The lyrical whisper of the sea calling her back. These were all new elements that had never experienced before and they were foreign and frightening.

Once she had come to calm down after the brief appearance of the fire, Sereia decided to still as the man with the flames approached to tie her down even further. Her hands remained raised in the air, suspended by the rope and hook, but she brought her legs to her chest to cover herself as best as possible. Her eyes watched the Flame Wielder (as she had dubbed him) carefully but she made no fuss as he attached layer upon layer of rope and knots. A part of her did it to minimise whatever pain she could, she had already earned herself a number of burns and grazes and probably bruises... If she could keep the number down, she would. Another part of her did it out of concern he would bring back the flame. But another part of her was slowly waking and wanting to not give these men any more satisfaction.

The repeated word 'monster', which was once more uttered by the Boss (as she had heard him called), was telling to how uneducated they all were. At least in her eyes. However, it was starting to dawn on Sereia that if she could earn the fear of these men through her strength and simply from being the monster they thought her to be... then that may keep them away from her long enough for her to create some sort of plan. But in the mean time, at least to keep them from taking advantages.

All she needed to figure out was if she could strike some sort of bargain and, if not, how she could escape before she was sent to whoever they had captured her for. She had no idea what awaited her beyond the shore, but considering that those who went missing never came back... She knew all the outcomes were not optimistic.

Once her abdomen, hips and chest all again became reacquainted with the rough rope the men used, Sereia turned her gaze up to the Boss and kept it steely and unforgiving. The only tears now were the ones that were dried on her cheeks and her eyes were slightly narrowed, furious.

"Diving overboard wouldn't be the first thing I do when I escape these binds, I promise you." She dared to utter, swallowing back her fear in favour of acting stronger than she felt. Her body trembled slightly with the fear she kept shoved back, betraying her, but the mermaid was determined to play up to every ounce of the so-called monster they thought she was.

The threat was evident if one read between the lines. The promise of death. Whether swift and easy or prolonged and pained, just like what she would undoubtedly go through, wasn't certain. But it would be death nonetheless. To just the captain or all the men, that wasn't suggested either.

But if it scared even some of his men... Sereia would feel safer.
 

potassiumboron

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The last thing Ambrose wanted to do was have to interact -or more specifically, converse- with the mermaid a second longer. As admittedly intrigued as he was by her very existence, she had proven to be, for lack of better words, a pain in his ass in the short time she had been in his and his crew's company. The man already had a terrible grasp on his patience, a fact that was notorious to those that knew him, so having to deal with the threats and attitude and knowing there was nothing he could physically do to shut down the consistent flow of them was hugely irritating.

Were this simply a crew member of a rival ship, or a sailor from a Royal Navy somewhere, Ambrose would have had no hesitation in reaching for his trusty pistol and saving himself the headache they would inevitably cause him with their whines and pleas. Granted, Sereia wasn't whining nor pleading, rather threatening with surprising conviction, but that was possibly more unbearable than the desperate appeals from rivals trying to pull some sympathy from him to spare their life; a tactic that had yet to actually work.

Because Ambrose was a proud man; someone who took immense pride in just how far he had gone in life, how much he had achieved, despite the obstacles in his way. He had fought ruthlessly, strongly, to get where he was in life, to have rallied a crew who were a family: an unconventional one, but a family who had each others' backs nonetheless. To be threatened with such casualness by a creature -no, a monster- wasn't easy to take, but take it he did - he had a job to do, and whilst working for others wasn't ideal, he had already completed the most difficult aspect of the work.

All that was left was to reach shore, deliver the bounty and collect his reward. Then he and his crew could return to the high seas, working for themselves, without the challenge of a mouthy mermaid disrupting the journey.

He just had to contain himself and draw out as much patience as he could for now, even if it would take a minor miracle for that to materialise.

"That's another threat you've made against me and my men. Ah, I'm sorry, let me specify that for 'ya - another empty threat. 'Cos you aren't going to lay one of your damn claws on any one aboard this ship, y'hear? Not again, at least. So by all means, sweetheart, fantasise away; have fun imagining all the brutal injuries you'd deal out to us. 'Cos that's all it'll be. Fantasies and imaginings," he eventually responded after a great deal of silence on his end, the time passed being necessary if he wanted to respond without his frustration transitioning into another outburst.

He had no qualms in violently exploding (at least verbally) but he was tired, the celebratory feel of finally capturing the mermaid having quickly been overshadowed by the exhaustion of having to put up with her fighting spirit. He still intended on downing a few glasses of rum, seeing the early morning arrive in good spirits, but to do that successfully, he had to keep his cool and not allow Sereia under his skin.

"Now, I reckon it's time we 'ave a party, eh boys? Crack open the rum, play some cards, let fucking loose a while? God knows we deserve it," he grinned enthusiastically, happy to turn his back to Sereia (which he wouldn't have done were she not securely tied to the mast and no longer a threat) and appeal to his crew instead, particularly if it encouraged an upturn of mood. After all, they had finally achieved their goal and were close to the completion of the job - what reason was there not to celebrate that?

Of course, he wasn't so cocky that he thought the ropes were so secure that it was safe to leave her above board, on deck, without supervision, hence his eyes straying across the faces of his men for the unfortunate soul who would miss out on the festivities to keep watch. Ideally, he would opt for one of the tougher men in case the worst case scenario transpired: Sereia loosening her binds and making an escape. Yet, the backlash from one of those men, who naturally had no desire to miss out on some booze and games, wouldn't be great for Ambrose's stress levels. And so, though not ideal, his eyes landed on one of the younger crew members whose disposition had been decidedly anxious since Sereia was tugged aboard; a man (or boy, given his 19 years of age) who would be far too nervous to speak out against Ambrose's command, even if he lacked the demeanour to strike any fear into the captured mermaid, and would probably come out the loser if the two were to engage in battle.

Hopefully, the ropes would do their job and it wouldn't have to come to that.

"You watch 'er, Dan. Just keep watch, you'll be fine," he finally murmured, a brief smile offered to -hopefully- instil some confidence in the boy. "Keep your gun handy, but alert us if the creature gives 'ya trouble - though hopefully she's learnt not to even attempt it. A monster though she is, she ain't dumb."

"I-- 'ave to keep watch?" The boy, Daniel, replied, careful to keep his tone respectful despite the incredulity, disbelief and fear infecting it. His eyes darted to Sereia, who still terrified him despite the human-like appearance she now presented. He saw this as a chance to finally prove himself to the crew, to Ambrose, but seizing the chance with both hands and a tight grip didn't erase the anxiety coursing through his young veins at the prospect of dying at Sereia's vengeful hand. "I-- yeah, you got it, boss. I can do that. No problem."

"Good lad," confirmed Ambrose, a nod sent the boy's way in another attempt to ease his understandable concern - as was the glare he sent to Sereia, a warning glance for her to behave herself. He doubted she would entirely, but if he could strike a little fear into her as she was attempting to do to his men, Daniel would have an easier time observing her for much of the night. "You fucking put a toe outta line, sweetheart, and I'll personally punish 'ya. I can't get violent, but trust me, I can put you through hell in other ways. So don't try me. Be good, be quiet, be still. Think 'ya can manage that?"
 

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If Sereia had been a braver mermaid... she probably would have lifted her hands and wiggled her fingers - her clawless fingers - to point out that she didn't have claws. Granted, in her other form, they were a little more pointed... but disappointingly, her human body was human down to the finest of details.

Yet, she didn't. Because she wasn't that braver mermaid. The silence that came with the time that it took for him to compose his irritation caused her own anger to waver, the flame flickering and growing weak as the adrenaline faded, no longer providing any fuel. But luckily, there was no returning threat as the Boss instead addressed his men and went back to the idea of their celebrations.

It made her feel sick at the notion of being some prize that they were delighted to have found. She was an object, not a being with emotions. In their eyes, she did not feel. She was a monster. Something to be feared, yet treasured as a rarity. What a juxtaposition that was. How confusing.

When she heard the stuttering response from the young male this Boss addressed, Sereia's eyes flickered open again to settle on him. He was a baby. That much she could see. His fear was easy to note too, written all over him. His voice. His eyes. His body language. Hell, Sereia was certain he had bathed in it considering how much it stained his skin. Acknowledging the boy who would be watching over her did make Sereia pause, a certain level of empathy rising within her. Surely this Boss realised this baby wouldn't stand a chance against her if she did break free. He was ultimately sacrificing this babe.

Her eyes remained on the young crew member until she realised she was being spoken to. Her head lulled, almost lazily, to the side to look at the man who had stolen her freedom. "I don't know what being good entails. I only know death and destruction and all things evil as a monster. Children of the Sea don't acknowledge good." She murmured quietly, head tipping back with closed eyes.




Later that evening, when the celebrations were clearly underway and Sereia had managed dared to catch some sleep before the noise became too great, the mermaid winced as she tried to get comfortable. Her eyes moved to the young babe that had been left to watch her. She kept her eyes trained on him, studying him where he was, gun in hand.

"Dan. That's what he called you, wasn't it?" She asked, voice and eyes soft, "I wanted to ask... perhaps even strike a deal with you. No-- don't worry. Don't worry, I'm not going to ask you to untie me. Like your man said, I'm a monster but I'm not dumb." She chuckled lightly, the sound musical on the wind, "All I want is a shirt... a blanket... something. Just something to cover myself with. You all need me alive, don't you? Well me freezing to death out here won't help." She smiled enticingly, "I'll give you a song, if you get me something like that. You should enjoy the evening too... you've done just as much of the hard work as they have. I promise... a shirt for a song..."
 

potassiumboron

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The sound of the raucous revelry occurring below deck wasn't exactly... easy for Daniel to have to overhear. After all. he wanted nothing more than to be part of the celebrations; to enjoy the time amongst good company, enjoying the feeling of success with a rum in one hand and playing cards in the other. He had no doubt that the crew's impression of him hadn't shifted in all the months he had been aboard the ship; that the anxious boy he had been during those first few days was all the continued to see him as - and though those tendencies still remained, he wasn't some wallflower too scared to integrate himself. He wanted nothing more than to grab a drink and party long into the night, to show that he was as up for a good time as the other men were.

To prove that there was more to him than the fear that, admittedly, tended to cloak him most of the time.

He just rarely ever had a chance to prove that when he was overlooked; considered a spare part whose use tended to be taking on the jobs nobody else particularly wanted to do. Hell, he wasn't stupid - he knew that his presence on deck, watching over Sereia, was simply because he was the 'disposable' member of the team; the one who they would undoubtedly mourn the loss of, but perhaps not as much as the others. Either that, or the fact he was still a fresh face aboard the ship and so, with that eagerness to please, would be willing to do whatever asked of him, including missing the celebrations below.

Frankly, he hoped the latter was Ambrose's opinion, rather than the former. He wanted the Captain to see he had a use, that he wasn't a disposable member of the crew. If he had to miss out on a few drinks to prove that, so be it.

There would be more nights like this in the future, after all. Maybe if he continued to do all asked of him without complaint, maybe he would rise through the ranks and prove to them all that he was more than his nervous disposition. Maybe then he would be someone they couldn't imagine partying and drinking without.

He was broken out of his thoughts by the musical lilt of the mermaid in front of him. He had spent the time with his hand firmly on his gun, doing his best to appear as threatening as he possibly could, even if that impression wasn't helped by his refusal to even glance at the woman on deck. Whether it be from the fear of knowing what she was (and what she was capable of) or intimidation from how strikingly beautiful she was (given how easy it would be to use that for her own advantages), he wasn't too sure - but what he did know for a fact was that it was safer not to directly look at her, but keep his eyes firmly on the waves lit only by moonlight, with the mermaid solely in his peripheral vision.

That was until she spoke, at least, his eyes immediately darting to her before he could help himself. He cursed beneath his breath at the stupidity and lack of self-control; a disappointment that was bitter, but only lasted a handful of seconds. Instead, he was at war with his thoughts, struggling to force back the acknowledgement that, monster or otherwise, Sereia was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen -and probably would ever see- in his life. Thinking of her in such a way was a recipe for disaster, and he knew that.

He just didn't know how to effectively ignore it.

"I don't want a song; I want you to shut up," he muttered as sharply, and as forcefully, as he could manage; an attempt no doubt weakened by the faintest of voice cracks, and a slight shiver from the wind that had timely picked up. "Just-- be quiet. You can't 'ave a shirt or else the Captain's gonna know I took sympathy on 'ya, isn't he? And then I'm in trouble. So-- So no, you can't. I know it's cold, it's fucking freezing, but you-- you'll get me in trouble, so just-- god, just tough it out, I-I... I can't-- no, I won't help you."
 

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Sereia didn't allow his attitude to trouble her; after the cruelty shown to her already, his meagre show of force wasn't about to send her quivering back into herself. The cold wasn't really a problem - the ocean could be a testing place and she was used to that. But she knew that if she could get one thing from this boy, then perhaps she could get more from him later. It was all about the steps to get him to trust her, trust a being he believed and had been taught was a monster.

"Oh come now... do you think you'll be in more trouble for giving me something to keep me alive? Or in more trouble for allowing me to freeze to death on your watch?" She tutted, but kept her tone gentle and soothing, "I don't wish for you to get into trouble, Dan. My quarrel isn't with you. Look at you, you poor thing."

A sympathetic sadness manifested within her eyes as she continued to study him, "Sat here in the cold, having to miss out on the festivities, having to deal with me alone. I may, apparently, be a monster, ma petite pieuvre, but I wouldn't wish to see anyone left out of things. You may all believe what you wish, but I am capable of emotion and feeling. And I feel awful for you."

The mermaid remained silent, allowing the cold breeze to whisper and whistle between them to make up for a lack of words. Allowing for him to have a moment of respite from her silken words. Eventually she sighed and shifted in the spot, throwing in a wince and a sudden shiver for extra measure. "The least they could have done for you is made sure you had some provision for doing a job none of them wanted. But you know, ma petite pieuvre, I'm rather glad it's you over any of those other hulking beings." She smiled quietly, head playfully leaning to the side, "You've got a kind soul, I can sense it. And a virtuous heart. You'd be a good person to trust... no wonder your captain trusts you with me."

Taking in a deep breath, Sereia released it in another, a long and soft exhale as she dropped her gaze to her feet. Her knees remained drawn up to her chest to keep her nudity as hidden as possible, and she wriggled her toes; both to ensure they would still move due to the cold, but also just to marvel at her new body. After a moment, she tipped her head back against the mast and closed her eyes. However, instead of remaining silent, the mermaid commenced with the song she had tried to bargain with:

"Shadows fall... And hope has fled... Steel your heart... The dawn will come.

The night is long... And the path is dark... Look to the sky... For one day soon... The dawn will come.

The Shepard's lost... And his home is far... Keep to the stars... The dawn will come.

The night is long... And the path is dark... Look to the sky... For one day soon... The dawn will come.

Bare your blade... And raise it high... Stand your ground... The dawn will come...

The night is long... And the path is dark... Look to the sky... For one day soon... The dawn will come..."


ma petite pieuvre - my little octopus[/hr]
 

potassiumboron

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The more the other spoke, the more anxious Daniel became, as signified by his nervous disposition: the biting of the inside of his cheek, the shifting of his weight between both feet, the knitting of his brows and desperate glances across to the waves, as though the sight of the moonlit waters would bring some composure to his frantic soul. It didn't, of course. On the contrary, the movement of the waves lit by the moon above, and the light sound of them against the side of the boat, made him feel a little queasy. He understood the hilarity of him, a pirate, being prone to seasickness when his life belonged to the sea, but the fact was that: he had realised shortly after joining the crew that fighting off the nausea would be frequent battle he would have to contend with.

He did his best to force the feeling away as soon as it hit him, returning his gaze to the deck below his feet to try and derive some comfort from the stability and reliability it provided when in contrast to the motion of the waves that had caused his queasiness in the first place. The last thing he wanted was for the woman to patronise him with further sympathetic remarks on just how 'good' and 'virtuous' he was, so if she were to catch sight of him pale-faced and taking in slow, deliberate breaths to fight off the urge to vomit, he could only imagine just what other cooed comments awaited him.

Despite his best of intentions, he couldn't claim to hate her words. He understood that being virtuous of heart was perhaps a direct contradiction to the work he undertook on board Ambrose's ship, but he had arrived out of desperation, to survive, and not necessarily because he had a desire for a life of crime upon the waves. Sure, he did what was asked of him, but there was always a part of him that felt... ashamed with the path he had chosen, the pricking of a guilty conscience often keeping him awake at night, however much he tried to reason that what he was doing was a necessity that he ought to be grateful for.

Perhaps it was a sign that Sereia had struck a significant chord, but Daniel was unable to fight off the briefest of smiles once her words fully settled, the acknowledgement from the other that she could see some good and some decency in him meaning more than she perhaps knew. It would hardly cause him to leave his life on ship behind (he was fully dedicated to it, despite his hesitance in the illegalities involved), but he took some comfort from it, even if he knew he perhaps shouldn't let her make that much of an impact on him.

But then she began to sing, and any recognition that he ought to keep her at arms' length and not cave to her gentle words went out of the window. The musicality of her voice was unlike anything he had had the pleasure of hearing: it immediately captivated him, his eyes meeting hers and remaining fixed in pace as he allowed the words to wash over him, the light, ethereal voice that carried them to drown his every sense. And the worst part? He was aware that he was powerless against the hold it had on him; an acknowledgement that both terrified him, given the potential consequences, but also failed to fully register as a concern when the singing drew him from all of his worries.

He eventually managed to blink, and with that, the awareness to say something, rather than continue to stare in an almost enamoured amazement at the creature before him.

"You-- You shouldn't sing, I... I don't think the Captain would like that; says a song from one of your kind is, ah-- y'know. Dangerous. But I reckon if he heard you, he'd feel different, 'cos you-- it's-- it's unlike anything I've heard," he responded, tripping over his words in the desire to get them out as soon as possible, to avoid having to disrupt the song more than he had to. He bit his lip as he allowed more thoughts to rise to the surface, a clarity breaking through the enjoyable daze the song had captured him in... albeit a clarity that made Sereia's earlier remarks sound wise, rather than a danger he might be punished for.

Of course he should get her a shirt, or a blanket. How couldn't he see that earlier? If she got sick, and died, he would be the one punished; he would be responsible for them failing to deliver the bounty. He shook his head to himself in mild bewilderment that he hadn't considered that until now, that she had made a valid point that would spare him trouble later on. He didn't know how the thought only now made sense to him, but he also didn't care; he was just glad it had before the cold had a detrimental effect on her health.

"Wait 'ere-- not that you can go anywhere, but uh-- just-- I'll be right back," he confirmed with a faint nod -and a smile that registered before he could force it back- before disappearing from deck in search of some outerwear to protect her from the bitter chill in the air. Understandably concerned that one of the other men would decide in that moment to head up on deck, for whatever reason, Dan did his best to move with haste, eventually reappearing a minute or two later with one of his shirts.

"It's gonna be big on 'ya but maybe that'll help? I dunno, just-- here," he offered, holding the shirt out naively. The realisation that she was tied to the mast eventually dawned on him, his eyes rolling to himself in mild irritation with himself. He proceeded forward with caution, the fear that she would take the opportunity to loosen her binds and attack him being present in his mind, though this was a time to be brave; not cowardly.

"I can help 'ya, just-- y'know, don't-- go for me. Don't bite me or nothin'. If you wanna be warm, you gotta let me help you into it, so-- I won't look or anythin', I'll-- keep my eyes shut, give 'ya some privacy. I ain't a weirdo like that."
 

Viverescribere

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"Your captain didn't even know I existed until today... I doubt he knows anything truthful about me at all."

Knowing that she had ensnared him to some degree, the mermaid made sure to keep her voice light and tender, matching the smile that graced her lips as she lowered her head to give him her attention again. She allowed her gaze to wander over him freely, studying the boy behind a compassionate glimmer to her eye.

She had never really used her voice before. Of course she enjoyed a song or two under water, but it never be in front of people. Not to mention, with her kind, it was a way to find a mate. But not with ensnaring one like a spider to dispose of once they were done, but quite the opposite. To find someone who wasn't drawn to you because of your song... that one being that found it beautiful but for what it was, rather than the magic behind it. If their eyes remained clear and their thoughts became less cloudy... who could approach you to tell you how beautiful it was instead of sit there in a daze and stammer and stutter afterwards...

It had yet to happen for Sereia. Now, with her current predicament, she doubted it would ever happen for her.

So when Daniel gave her the exact response she was looking for, she knew she was on the path to building up perhaps some semblance of trust. Enough to keep her warm, maybe even fed, so when she could break free... she would be able to make it home.

She allowed the façade to drop once he disappeared below deck, a deep breath being blown out and her head falling forward as she closed her eyes, recuperating for the brief second she didn't have to put some sort of act on.

When he arrived back and approached her, she was back to that gentle behaviour, even giggling at his request for her not to bite him. "I wouldn't do that, not to you... not when you've been sweet enough to get me something to keep warm in." She teased, sitting up straighter as she prepared to wiggling into the piece of clothing he had provided.

As he leaned in and helped her move it through the layers of rope, Sereia used that closeness to press a light kiss to his cheek, "Thank you, Dan." She smiled warmly up at him once she was covered, already actually feeling the benefits of the cloths protecting her from the cold sea wind. Her smile then turned cheeky and she tilted her head at him, "A mermaid's kiss means a lot you know... a lot of sailors' would kill to get one. Apparently they're believed to protect you at sea. Did you know that?"
 

potassiumboron

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As promised, the young man kept his eyes clenched shut as he aided the mermaid into the garment. In fact, for the entire time he had kept watch of her, he had done his utmost not to look in her direction - naturally, the fear on his part was the overarching factor in his inability to glance in her direction, but there was also the discomfort he felt at her being unclothed. Regardless of what the other crew members said about her being a 'monster', the fact remained that she didn't appear one when out of the waters she called home: she looked like a cold, shivering woman who deserved privacy and decency. Granted, Daniel knew she wasn't human and therefore could justify until now not giving her the clothing she required, but it didn't change the unsettled grimace that had been on his face much of the night; the discomfort and guilt he felt at leaving her to sit in such a way.

He had been raised by women; a fierce, loving mother, a couple of strong-willed aunties and a handful of older sisters who doted upon him the moment he came into the world. He had been taught to be respectful, to be decent and honourable, and while his current occupation rather contradicted that, he still clung to some of the lessons engrained in him - namely to treat women properly. Avoiding eye contact with Sereia, therefore, had been out of fear, yes, but also to give her a feeling of privacy - and some safety.

He doubted she felt safe after the threats and violent snarling made at her earlier that evening, but unlike some of the crew who wouldn't have bothered to hide their straying glances at her, Daniel had no intention of putting her at any discomfort. Monster or otherwise, nobody deserved to feel that way.

He only dared to open his eyes when he had helped her into the shirt, only to have them shut again in response to the brief kiss to his cheek. He raised a hand to it, to cover what inevitably would become a blush, but to also give him a moment or two to think; to struggle with the countless conflicting thoughts racing through his mind. He peered around his shoulder quickly once the paranoia that he was being watched kicked in; a thought that was proven untrue, thankfully, though the fear and dread in the pit of his stomach didn't disappear quite as quickly, lingering within him as a reminder of how dangerously close he might have been to losing all he had aboard the ship.

"I-- I didn't know that, but you can't kiss me like that, it ain't right. I'd get in trouble if anyone saw an'-- an' you ain't-- y'know. You're a-- a monster," he mumbled as he took a few steps back from her, one hand returning to his gun as the other ran through his hair, clutching at the strands so the slight pain forced him to pull himself together and stop dwelling so much on the kiss itself. It was hard not to obsess over it when it was the first kiss he had ever received -and to have it from some ethereally beautiful woman was confusing in and of itself- but he had to: this wasn't some girl he could grow to like and date, after all.

This was a monster; a fact he had overlooked given her current human-like presentation.

The guilt of even calling her a monster was unwelcome, proof that he had let her make strides in getting through to him in a way she never should have been able to... even if he wasn't sure now, with her kind words and giggles, that she was truly as despicable as the others made her out to be. But being the outsider to their opinion, the one who didn't think the way they did, wasn't a great position to be in either when this world with them was his life, with Sereia merely a passerby.

"I, uh... I mean-- just don't do that," he clarified after a further moment, biting the inside of his cheek hard. "'Cos it'd get us both in trouble an' I'm really trying not to piss anyone off 'round here. I'm sure you don't want to make your situation worse either, yeah? So just, uh... just don't... don't get me in trouble, Please."
 

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Perhaps she had pushed too far. Done too much too soon. Sure, she was trying to manipulate the kid and get him to trust her so she could escape from the real monsters on board, but even after all her kind words and soft compliments, she was still a monster to him. Sereia wanted to scream. She wanted to yell at him and make him see what she saw. She couldn't understand how everyone else was so blind to the truth. All she wanted was to go home. She would take not getting her revenge on their Captain if it meant she got to go home.

If she was such a monster, why was it she and not they that was tied tightly to the mast in the freezing sea breeze? Unclothed, unfed and not offered so much as a cup of water by that point? Left to shiver and shake about a future so precarious, it was painful and impossible to imagine.

The smile she gave him faded as a result of his first reaction, eyes flickering down to the hand that was now on his gun and lingering there as she stilled.

She also didn't need his babe of a boy accidentally shooting her. Not because she feared she would die because of it, but rather because he would simply leave her with a wound that would provide her with the inability to escape. She didn't know what humans had in their world to prevent infection or death, but she wasn't eager to familiarise herself with it.

"I'm... I'm sorry." She whispered, forcing herself past the wave of sadness she just felt at the thoughts his words had caused to look up from the gun he had his hand on and meet his eyes. "I... I wouldn't want to cause you any trouble, Dan."

Sereia knew she had to continue. She couldn't just give up her game now because of a few comments made by some young lad. His older shipmates had said a lot worse, his Captain had threatened her with worse. If she could meet his gaze and retort, she could continue with her act.

"I'd never want to make trouble for you. Not when you've been so kind to me already." She offered a small, dejected smile, "I-- I'd even understand if you'd like to take this shirt back before dawn, so you don't get into that trouble you mentioned. I appreciate even just spending the night in it; you've risked a lot already to get it."

Her eyes darted down to her feet again before she pulled her knees to her chest, "Bonne nuit, ma petite pieuvre." She murmured, deciding that it was best to not push him further. Tomorrow would be a new day... and she had seemed to make some progress already.
 
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potassiumboron

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Other men might have realised how perilously close they were teetering on the edge of irrevocable danger; that they were allowing emotions and feelings to cloud clear rational thought, judgement and direct order, but Daniel... he wasn't one of those men. Whilst other members of the crew might have simply brushed off her soft-spoken apologies in favour of remaining true to Ambrose's clear-cut demands (which certainly didn't involve finding sympathy for the mermaid), Daniel lifted his eyes from the deck as his pre-existing guilt only compounded within him, becoming so unbearable that ignoring it, as he often tried to do, was an impossible feat.

He was a decent person, after all; someone who was naturally sympathetic and who often strove to do the decent thing, even if his occupation aboard Ambrose's ship made that a conundrum these days. Even with someone like Sereia, someone he was told was a monster who didn't deserve pity or kindness, there was the quiet urge to help her. He couldn't let her free, and he certainly had no intention of promising her his loyalty (he was still a human who had been told dramatic stories of nightmarish creatures of the sea who would kill and eat him without hesitation), but he could give her a shirt; he could respond to her words of kindness with a similar energy to spare tension and discomfort brewing.

The fact he had snapped and backed away, the fact his hand had returned immediately to his gun, probably didn't help her to feel comfortable in his presence. He wanted to remain loyal to the crew, the people in his life who mattered the most, but was it so wrong to offer the mermaid a little comfort when she was understandably frightened?

If it was, he was grateful they were alone where nobody could reprimand him for it. He hesitated nonetheless, glancing over his shoulder to ensure their privacy remained intact, before approaching forward once again, his hand notably released from the grip on his gun. It was still on his person -he didn't trust the creature enough to dispose of his weapon- but letting it go, approaching without it held out in front of him, felt like a good step to make. Actions spoke louder than words, after all.

"Hey, I-- won't take the shirt from 'ya, you need it. An' look, I ain't saying we're friends or nothing, 'cos that's stupid, but-- I ain't a bad guy, y'know? I don't like seeing a girl like you tied up like this, it ain't nice to see, even if-- Ambrose kinda hasn't got a choice, but-- look, ah... what I'm saying is, if I can, I'll... help 'ya, a bit. Y'know, get you water and a bit of food, a blanket if you need it. S'all I can do, though. We ain't s'posed to really be talking, they'd lose their minds with me if they knew, so-- keep it between us, yeah? Like-- a secret?"
 

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It would be uncomfortable sleeping against the mast, that was for certain. Sereia was already painfully aware of that fact but trying to purposefully get some sleep now made her realise just how impossible it would seem. She would undoubtedly get some from time to time, but she would wake up with pains and aches, perhaps some new robe burns in places. But at least the shirt would protect her skin now, she wasn't as vulnerable as before.

Those thoughts were interrupted by Dan's voice and the mermaid was startled by the young pirate seeking to answer her. She had expected him to maybe linger for a moment before returning to his post, but not actually remain and reengage with their previous conversation.

She turned her head and blinked up at him, fixing a stunned and doe-eyed look upon her features.

"But... but of course I could keep it a secret." She murmured back, allowing her first expression to brighten with a smile, "I wouldn't breathe a word to a soul, ma petit pieuvre. I promise. I'm very good with secrets." She bit her lower lip but kept the smile, the combination alluding to something more mischievous. "...I can even tell your captain that you're the reason I'm still alive tonight."

It was clear the boy was seeking to impress the men that had left him out of the revelries. For Sereia, she found it rather sad... and even a little pathetic. If it were her, she would have been down their regardless. Who would remember after they had drunk the night away?

But he wanted their approval, and if that was another way to win him over - by helping him gain recognition - then she would continue to worm her way in.

"Because it's true, isn't it?" She asked innocently, "Without this shirt, I would have frozen. If you hadn't been so quick thinking... I would have gotten some cold-related illness and then there would have been no bounty for any of you."

Sereia knew reaching out to grace her fingers over his arm or his hand would have been the icing on the cake, but instead had to settle for manifesting that sincerity through her gaze, a smile to match being painted on her lips, "As I said... I don't want to get you into trouble, Dan. I can even help you, if you're able to help me with those little things. I just... all I want is to stay alive. Will you help me with that?"